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How to Root Basil from Cuttings

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how to root basil

Free plants!! If you’re a gardener or a plant lover, then the offer of free plants is something you can’t turn down very easily. I’ll be honest. I can’t usually turn down the offer of reduced price plants either. I always think I can make them bloom again or nurse them back to health. This doesn’t always work out (the poor clearance lime tree could attest to this if it was still alive.) However, free plants, as in those from cuttings, are a fantastic way to increase your harvest! 

Why Root Basil?

You could simply let your basil plant grow, enjoying the fresh leaves in your summer dishes. But why not share the love with others and create more plants for your own garden space? And if you’re pruning your basil plants, which will give you a more abundant harvest, then you already have the perfect cuttings for rooting. So rooting basil from cuttings gives you a way to use those cuttings if you aren’t planning to use the pruned off pieces in a recipe immediately. affiliate link policy

The Process of Rooting

Recently, my master gardener class had an entire lesson on the topic of propagation, which is what rooting is technically called. Propagation means the process of growing new plants and this can be from a variety of sources, including cuttings, seeds, or other plant parts. For propagating basil, all that’s needed is a basil stem with enough length to be able to submerge in water, without the leaves getting wet. And when you use one part of plant to create a new plant, you’re guaranteed that the plant will be exactly like the parent plant. 

While that may seem obvious, in some hybrid plants, seeds that are saved from the plant to be used the next year will not necessarily have the same traits as the parent plant. So, if you like the variety of basil you’re growing, snip off a bit and get to rooting!



How to Root Basil

  1. Begin by using a well developed basil plant. If your basil plant is large enough to prune, then it’s large enough to take cuttings for rooting. You’ll want to take a cutting that has a good stem length on it. basil cut
  2. Take your cutting and place it in a jar of clean water. I usually only fill the jar up enough so it’s covering the bottom 1/2 inch of stem. 
  3. Keep your stem submerged for 5-7 days, replacing water every other day to keep it fresh. You should begin to see small roots forming after just a few days.how to root basil
  4. Once the roots have reached 2 inches long, you can remove them from the jar of water and plant them in moist potting soil, or take them as they are to a friend! 

Rooting basil is a simple garden task that can yield fantastic rewards for both you and your gardening friends and neighbors. It’s also an easy way to get into plant propagation. Even if you’ve had difficulty propagating plants from seed, trying rooting will give you success and perhaps a confidence boost. I think rooting this way is much easier than starting seeds at home! 

And rooting basil (or other plants) this way is a fun project to do with kids. It could even lend itself toward a science fair project if you have a child who is at that age. Perhaps consider rooting in water versus moist potting soil (there are some plants that actually do better going straight into soil). Or add a little rooting powder to one and not another. The possibilities are endless!

I’d love to know if you’ve rooted plants in the past, and what has worked well for you! Comment below and let me know if there’s something I should be trying out. Have a great week!



Monday 18th of July 2022

Hi, Courtney. I've been puzzling over a new problem I'm dealing with here in the southwest these last couple of years. I've always kept some of my choicest cuttings in jars in the kitchen window so my husband has them close at hand for cooking.

The basil rooted regularly --- until two years ago. Suddenly, nothing (except Dad's old mint) will root! These are cuttings are from nursery plants. The cut ends are clean, sharp knife, etc.,etc.... Any ideas? It's maddening!


Tuesday 19th of July 2022

Oh, that is frustrating. A few suggestions, though you may be doing these already, make shorter cuttings to promote root growth, or if you have a pothos plant in your house, you can add a cutting of pothos to the same glass you're keeping your herb cuttings in. I've read recently that pothos has a natural rooting horomone within it. I hope these help!


Monday 3rd of August 2020

I followed your advice, but my cutting has not grown any roots in a fortnight. should I start again or could I put cutting into compost.? the leaves at the top still seem very healthy .


Monday 3rd of August 2020

Hey Clive! I'm so sorry to hear your cutting didn't root. Two weeks should certainly be enough time for you to see some roots forming. Any chance there's some brown coloring where the cut was made? If so, I'd start again. Also, was it a woody cutting from an older part of the plant or a stem from newer growth.

Tara Jacobs

Thursday 30th of April 2020

Thanks for the quick reply! All three stems are in about 2" of water. I also have two cilantro stems in there and the leaves seem fine, strange! Maybe I'll just pick out new basil cuttings from the store bought bunch - is there something in particular I would be looking for when chosing new stems to root? Thanks!


Thursday 30th of April 2020

Are your cuttings from a store-bought basil plant, or are they from pre-cut herbs that still have stems attached?


Thursday 30th of April 2020

Hello! I bought basil from the supermarket for a recipe, but I also want to root it to start a plant indoors until I can put it out in the garden. Last night I put three stems in a glass of water, they had nice big leaves on top, this morning the leaves are all shriveled and brown... should I take all the leaves off next time? Should I trim the bottom of the stem first or leave it the way it is? Thank you!


Thursday 30th of April 2020

So interesting, Tara. I usually don't take the leaves off, unless they're going to touch the water. Was your stem definitely in the water? Because my first thought is your cutting dried out. Let me know. :)